The Marine Protection Atlas

integrates science-based assessments that measure progress toward protecting 30% of the global ocean in fully and highly protected areas by 2030.

2.7%
of the ocean
is fully or highly protected from fishing impacts
7.7%
of the ocean
is protected according to WDPA / ProtectedPlanet

Announcing the MPA Guide: a framework to achieve global goals for the ocean

The MPA Guide is a groundbreaking science-driven, policy-relevant framework to categorize marine protected areas and link their outcomes for nature and people. The MPA Guide framework is fully integrated into the Marine Protection Atlas platform, allowing users to elucidate how much of the ocean is currently fully to highly protected, highlight where MPAs are not yet implemented on the water, and much more.

View the Press Release.

Explore case studies that showcase how the MPA Guide framework can be applied to identify the level of protection and stage of establishment of MPAs around the world

MPAtlas now includes the MPA Guide framework. Track the publication of MPA Guide-based assessments of marine protected areas here.

The Marine Protection Atlas (MPAtlas) is building a comprehensive global database of marine protection to identify, monitor, and advocate for fully and highly protected areas. It supports international progress toward effective marine conservation by integrating the latest available data on marine protected areas with science-based assessments that determine their stage of establishment and level of protection.

MPAtlas combines self-reported data submitted by countries to the official World Database on Protected Areas (WDPA) with standardized, science-based assessments that categorize MPA zones in terms of expected outcomes and conservation benefits.

Enrich

We enrich the WDPA database by adding spatial data and information on management zones within MPAs, which is critical to understanding the impacts of regulations and uses across the site.

Learn more about our methods.

Evaluate

We work with partners to evaluate the stage of establishment and protection level of marine protected areas using science-based, standardized assessments.

Read more about our MPA assessments.

Report

TODO

We create reports and visualizations of global MPA coverage from these data to inform global progress toward marine conservation and highlight the importance of fully and highly protected areas.

View our reports.

Global marine fishing protection:

Percent of global ocean by fishing protection status:
implemented
10%
20%
30%
unimplemented
MPA zones
area (km2)
% of global ocean
Implemented:
13,739
21,278,837
5.9%
Fully / Highly Protected
1,062
9,767,357
2.7%
Less Protected / Unknown
12,677
11,511,480
3.2%
Unimplemented:
2,670
2,636,355
< 1%
Designated & Unimplemented
2,670
2,636,355
< 1%
Total Designated:
16,409
23,915,192
6.6%
Proposed / Committed:
244
5,906,698
1.6%
Proposed / Committed
244
5,906,698
1.6%

Marine protection within national jurisdictions

5.7%
of ocean within national jurisdictions

is in implemented and fully / highly protected areas.

Countries have the jurisdiction to create marine protected areas to the limits of their declared Exclusive Economic Zones (EEZs). These areas account for 39% of the global ocean area and include many hotspots of human activity and industry.

8
countries

have protected at least 10% of their marine areas in implemented and fully / highly protected areas.

Many nations have agreed to international commitments to create marine protected areas or established their own national targets for marine protected areas, ranging in coverage from 10% to 30% of their national marine areas.

Only 1 have protected more than 30% in fully / highly protected areas.

0.8%
of the High Seas

is in implemented and fully / highly protected areas.

Areas outside national jurisdiction cover 61% of the global ocean area.

Top 10 Fully / Highly Protected Countries

1
Palau
≥ 30% F/H
78% fully / highly protected
10%
30%
100%
477,463 km2 in fully / highly protected marine areas614,807 km2 total marine area
2
≥ 10% F/H
29% fully / highly protected
10%
30%
100%
637,916 km2 in fully / highly protected marine areas2,203,542 km2 total marine area
3
United Kingdom
(includes national waters and 12 territories)
≥ 10% F/H
27% fully / highly protected
10%
30%
100%
1,591,855 km2 in fully / highly protected marine areas5,879,220 km2 total marine area
4
United States
(includes national waters and 6 territories)
≥ 10% F/H
23% fully / highly protected
10%
30%
100%
2,818,444 km2 in fully / highly protected marine areas12,205,918 km2 total marine area
5
≥ 10% F/H
12% fully / highly protected
10%
30%
100%
451,121 km2 in fully / highly protected marine areas3,668,776 km2 total marine area
6
≥ 10% F/H
11% fully / highly protected
10%
30%
100%
395,133 km2 in fully / highly protected marine areas3,440,220 km2 total marine area
7
Argentina
(includes national waters and 2 territories)
≥ 10% F/H
11% fully / highly protected
10%
30%
100%
315,918 km2 in fully / highly protected marine areas2,860,401 km2 total marine area
8
Australia
(includes national waters and 4 territories)
≥ 10% F/H
10% fully / highly protected
10%
30%
100%
928,267 km2 in fully / highly protected marine areas8,994,340 km2 total marine area
9
4.7% fully / highly protected
10%
30%
100%
149,521 km2 in fully / highly protected marine areas3,187,013 km2 total marine area
10
4.2% fully / highly protected
10%
30%
100%
45,305 km2 in fully / highly protected marine areas1,077,731 km2 total marine area

Largest marine protected areas

71%
of global marine protected area

is in 39 very large (≥ 100,000 km2) implemented protected marine protected areas.

41%
of global marine protected area

is in the 100 largest fully / highly protected marine areas.

0.3%
of global marine protected area

is in 11,394 small and very small marine implemented protected areas (<100 km2).

Top 10 Largest Fully or Highly Marine Protected Areas

1
Marine Protected Area (CCAMLR within the High Seas
1,606,529 km2 in fully / highly protected marine area
2
1,508,730 km2 in fully / highly protected marine area
3
1,265,923 km2 in fully / highly protected marine area
4
Marine Reserve within Pitcairn
832,694 km2 in fully / highly protected marine area
5
638,097 km2 in fully / highly protected marine area
6
National Marine Sanctuary within Palau
477,148 km2 in fully / highly protected marine area
7
443,571 km2 in fully / highly protected marine area
8
Protected Area within Kiribati
395,133 km2 in fully / highly protected marine area
9
362,071 km2 in fully / highly protected marine area
10
307,487 km2 in fully / highly protected marine area

MPA Guide assessment of marine protection

The MPA Guide* provides a scientific framework for categorizing MPAs using consistent criteria based on establishment stage and protection levels that reflect the conservation benefits they provide. It is intended to motivate more meaningful protection and can be used by governments and MPA planners to better understand how the regulations of their MPAs relate to conservation outcomes. Learn more.

10%

of global protected area

has been assessed using the MPA Guide

zones
area (km2)
% of global ocean
Implemented:
10
2,229,037
< 1%
Fully Protected
4
966,745
< 1%
Highly Protected
3
1,156,544
< 1%
Lightly Protected
2
102,231
< 1%
Minimally Protected
1
3,517
< 1%
Unimplemented:
13
434,706
< 1%
Total Assessed:
23
2,663,743
< 1%
Not Assessed:
16,629
24,239,199
6.7%

Establishment stage:

MPA Guide establishment stage graphic

Protection level:

MPA Guide protection level graphic

* Grorud-Colvert et al. 2021. The MPA Guide: A Framework to Achieve Global Goals for the Ocean. Science (in review).

Regulation-Based Classification System marine protection

The Regulation-Based Classification System (RBCS)* classifies MPAs based on their regulations using an increasing gradient of impacts of uses (1-8). Following a decision tree, scores for each use are weighted by their potential impact on biodiversity. In MPAs with multiple zones, each zone within an MPA is scored and a weighted average by zone area determines the MPA score. This system is globally applicable, assesses how well MPAs can perform, and unambiguously discriminates the impacts of uses. Learn more.

20%

of global protected area

has been assessed using RBCS

zones
area (km2)
% of global ocean
Implemented:
106
4,323,908
1.2%
RBCS 1-3
45
1,079,062
< 1%
RBCS 4-5
29
1,581,992
< 1%
RBCS 6-7
32
1,662,854
< 1%
Unimplemented:
2
329,636
< 1%
Total Assessed:
108
4,653,544
1.3%
Not Assessed:
16,304
19,110,874
5.3%

* Horta e Costa, B., J. Claudet, G. Franco, K. Erzini, A. Caro, and E. J. Gonçalves. 2016. A regulation-based classification system for Marine Protected Areas (MPAs). Marine Policy 72:192–198.

Blue Parks

17

marine protected areas

have received Blue Park Awards.

These areas cover roughly 7% of the total marine protected area in the world.

Learn more about Blue Parks.

Blue Parks* aim to unite a global ocean refuge system of effective MPAs that covers 30% of the ocean to safeguard marine biodiversity. The Blue Park Criteria are science-based standards for conservation effectiveness, which provide blueprints for effective MPAs and a framework for evaluating the biodiversity benefits of MPAs. By awarding MPAs that meet the Blue Park Criteria, the Blue Parks initiative incentivizes and accelerates effective marine protection.

* Marine Conservation Institute. 2021. Blue Park Criteria: 2021. Seattle, WA, 34pp.

Blue Parks criteria:

Blue Parks criteria image

Blue Parks around the world:

Blue Parks map

This application was created by the Marine Conservation Institute in partnership with Astute Spruce, LLC and EcoQuants LLC.

It is made possible through the generous support from:

Please support the work of the Marine Protection Atlas: the only comprehensive database that identifies and tracks fully and highly protected MPAs throughout the world.

Contact Uslast updated: 2021-09-16© 2021 Marine Conservation Institute